3D Printing isn't Just for Nerds, I'm Talking to You, Fashionistas!

3D Printing isn’t Just for Nerds, I’m Talking to You, Fashionistas!

Probability says that you’ve at least heard of 3D Printing. This new technology has been featured on technology websites and news articles, and it’s becoming more mainstream by the day. Artists such as jewelry makers and fashion designers are turning to this technology to take control over the entire design and production process for plastic, ceramic, and even metal objects. Read on to learn about the advancements in 3D printing and how it can serve you sometime in the very near future!

First off, in case you’re unfamiliar with the basic concept of 3D printing, we’ll go over how it works.

Picture a regular inkjet printer that prints with regular ink on a 2D surface of paper. This printer moves back and forth in an x and y direction printing small amounts of ink at a time until the image is complete. 3D printing works in the same way, but for every x and y image it completes it has to do that for z layers to make a 3D final object. So, this printer has the ability to move up and down once it finishes a given flat layer.

Most 3D printers work by heating up plastic and extruding it through a small nozzle heated to 190C onto a platform heated to 100C. As the liquid plastic leaves the nozzle it hardens almost immediately as it touches the build platform or another piece of plastic.  The nozzle is on a motorized stage that can move in three dimensions very rapidly and follows a path just like a pencil to draw out the 3D part. The plastic can be a number of different colors but usually in the low cost printers only one color can be used at a time.

There are a number of popular 3D printing systems.  Many designers such as Continuum Fashion and the London College of Fashion are using companies like 3D Systems or Shapeways to build shoes, chairs, lamp shades, scarves, and more with cutting-edge designs.

The appeal of 3D printing is convenience and accessibility. If you lose a button to a shirt, need a pair of flip flops to wear in the rain, or want to try making your own jewelry, 3D printing is an easy way to get immediate gratification at home. Accessibility is such a big benefit because manufacture used to be limited to those who had the tools, but now anyone with a 3D printer can design and print prototypes of their creations in their own home or office.

What would you try printing with a 3D printer?

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